American-Jewish Human Rights Organization Visits Kyiv

A working visit of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry (UCSJ) to Kyiv took place on August 17-20. The delegation included UCSJ President and Executive Director Larry Lerner, Director of International Bureaus and Activities Leonid Stonov, Board of Directors member Dr. Joel Sandberg, and noted political scientist Stephen Eric Bronner. The visit was prepared by VAAD Ukraine and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) Kyiv office.

On the first day of their work, the delegation met with representatives of civil society, who told the American guests about how civil society structures function during the Ukrainian political crisis and the Russian military aggression, as well as of the greatest humanitarian problems involving human rights protection.

EAJC GC Chairman, VAAD Ukraine Chairman Josef Zissels held an introductory briefing. Roman Kuybida, the representative of the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms, spoke about the problems of the legal system and the reform that is currently underway. Oleg Martynenko of the Centre for Studies of Law Enforcement Activities reported on his monitoring of human rights in the work of law enforcement bodies and necessary changes in their work. Olga Skrypnyk reported on the situation with human rights in the Crimea and Alexandra Delemenchuk reported on the situation in Donbass. Alexander Gorbatko, representative of the “Donbass SOS” volunteer initiative, gave on a overview of the main problems that internally dislocated persons and forcedly relocated persons face. EAJC expert Vyacheslav Likhachev, leader of the Monitoring Group for the Rights of National Minorities spoke about manifestations of xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Ukraine. Alexandra Matveichuk of the Center for Civil Liberties gave an overview of the civil initatives that took place during the Maidan and the following months. Daniil Mescheryakov, the representative of the International Helsinki Union for Human Rights, presented several ideas for how American civil society could help Ukraine.

On that same day the UCSJ delegation met with representatives of the Ukrainian Jewish community.

During the following days, the UCSJ held negotiations with the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy Bruce Donahue, as well as with the leadership of USAID Ukraine and Ukrainian officials.

On August 18, the UCSJ leaders met with the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, and later with the Deputy Minister of Culture Alexander Zhuravchak. On August 19, the delegation met with Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaliy Kasko, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Security Services, SSU Archive Director Igor Kulik, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danylo Lubkibsky, Ombudsperson Valeria Lutkivska, and the Vice Prime Minister Aleksandr Sych.

The American human rights activists are now developing several projects to aid Ukrainian society during the Russian aggression.